American in Korcula
Washington Post’s Staff Writer K.C. Summers wrote an article ” Ferrily She Rolled Along” about his visit to Croatia. He also visited Korcula. Here is an extract from the article:
It seemed impossible that Korcula would be crowded. The tiny island about 3 1/2 hours by ferry from Dubrovnik is known for its laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, and I was expecting peace and quiet. Turned out to be the same old story . . . a cruise ship had just docked.
There isn’t much to do on Korcula, and that, of course, is the great appeal. The main town, also called Korcula, is cunningly laid out, with one long central street (to catch the breeze) and side streets radiating from it like the bones of a fish. Yep, the famous fishbone layout.
It was raining when I arrived, and I negotiated with a young woman for a room off the main square. She was the polar opposite of my Dubrovnik landlady: flaming red hair, green capris, breezy smile. The room, on the fourth floor of her old stone house on the coast road, had another killer view, complete with fishing boats and the odd yacht. I was now officially spoiled for any future B&B in any country, ever.
I gave up on lunch — every restaurant was packed — and went for a walk, dodging the dozens of skinny feral cats that slink around town. Korcula, a walled city with steep cobbled streets, feels like Venice — the Venetians ruled it for four centuries — and even has its own St. Mark’s Square. Each narrow alley is more enticing than the last, with doors opening onto private courtyards with vine-draped, wrought-iron stairways.
By now it was sunny again, and I walked down to the pebbly beach to dip my toes in the Adriatic. The streets were packed with guidebook-toting photographers who tended to stop abruptly in their tracks, causing mini-traffic jams while they zoomed in on the carved moldings and ornate grillwork.
And then, suddenly, the locals took over. Out of a side street came an impromptu wedding procession — a stylish bride and groom led by a Croatian flag-bearer and an accordionist, with several dozen cheering friends and family members falling in behind them. Impulsively, I followed them down the hill and halfway around the island, snapping pictures and high-fiving the relatives until it occurred to me that I was probably really messing up their wedding video.
That night, after cocktails under the stars at the weirdest bar I’ve ever been to (a 14th-century Venetian tower with a long, skinny ladder that you have to climb to reach the rooftop tables), I settled in at one of the outdoor restaurants overlooking the bay. Ah, which fresh fish would it be tonight? A black cat prowling the sea wall watched the negotiations as the waiter coached me on the menu: “St. Pietro” was eel, orado was sea bream. And I was also ordering the blitva , he informed me. “That’s our special kind of spinach, but it’s 200 times better. You will love.” I did.
The next morning I woke up to church bells and a cat fight, and by 7 a.m. I was settled in at a cafe near the town square, nibbling a marmalade croissant and watching the neighborhood come to life. A well-padded woman in powder-blue stretch pants pedaled up on a pink bike and popped into a supermarket. Two waitresses shouted good morning to each other from their respective cafes, and a couple of girls in regulation short tiered skirts, camisoles and flipflops strolled down to the beach.
While the coastline is endless in these parts, sand is not. But that doesn’t stop the legions of determined sunbathers who spread their beach towels on concrete slabs or hard pebbly beaches. By the time I’d packed up a couple of hours later and was heading for the ferry dock, the well-oiled and frequently topless populace — no inhibitions here — was out in force….